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Monday, September 12, 2011

Doing Time in Rawlins, Wyoming

So Long Winnemucca!

Monday morning, leaving Winnemucca behind, Barbara and I were on the road to Salt Lake City, part II of winding our way to Colorado. We've driven the route to Salt Lake City a few times over the years with Barb's boys Eric and James, on our way to Yellowstone National Park. But this go-round after a night in Salt Lake City, instead of north, we headed east towards Wyoming.

The road between Winnemucca and Salt Lake City would be totally devoid of interest if it were not for the white alkali desert.

Utah Alkali Salt Flats

The only other note of interest is the weird mirages that make the highway look as if it dissolves into a patch of water in the distance ahead. How there are mirages when the daytime temperatures were in the 80s is even more amazing.

Highway Mirage in the distance

The night we spent in Salt Lake City was uneventful, and next day we were headed further east toward Wyoming. I was amazed by the high number of wild Pronghorn antelope that browsed and laid along side the highway. I bet we saw at least 10 herds of antelope between Salt Lake City and Rawlins. However with a 75 miles an hour speed limit, and a jillion massive semi trucks, not to mention a nearly non-existent road shoulder, we didn't dare stop for any photos, least we wind up a greasy spot on the byway.

First of a zillion mesas along Highway 80

Even without the fun of seeing wildlife, the highway was far more interesting once we left Salt Lake behind. Mesas, sheer rock cliffs and amazingly artful rock outcroppings were around every corner.

A mirror surfaced lake - Utah
We were going so fast whomever was driving shotgun had to get most of their shots through the windshield or passenger side window. That necessity made some of the shots borderline awesome.

Lots of steep cliffs handy for drive by photo ops

After a fairly short driving day, we were checked checked in and snug in our motel suite in Rawlins. As soon as we were we were off to explore what there is of Rawlins, Wyoming.

There are several pretty Victorians in Rawlins. The Ferry Mansion is the showiest.

The Ferry Mansion, a Queen Anne Victorian - now a B&B

Rawlings is chock full of beautiful old Victorians

We soon discovered the pride of Rawlins is it's old time Wyoming Penitentiary. The old Pen held prisoners from the early 1901 on to 1981. 'If the walls could only talk - and also plunder, rape & pillage - the stories they could tell!

The Rawlins Penetentiary

Click on the picture below (or any photos here for that matter) for a closer look at the Pen's history.

To read the sign, just click on the photo

On first sight of the cold stone walls my first thought was 'Oh joy! I bet this place is haunted!'. A quick web search proved me right in that assumption. Too bad this the prison is so far from home, it might be a nice place to tour around Halloween - I mean, there were loads of creepiness and hangings here!

The prison barber shop, where nice shaves were had with dull blades

The prison has been closed for prisoners but is open for visitors to its museum. There are daily tours and I ought to have gone on one but I too bushed. I was up for a walk around the museum...

Note to self: next time SKIP the prison's display of deadly weaponry produced by prisoners from plastic cutlery/toothbrushes and such. Eeeeww...

Loads of law enforcement & creepy prison artifacts
Nearly obligatory 'License plates through the ages' exhibit
Aw geez... you can be certain that George "Butch" Cassidy was just a low down thief when he checked into the Wyoming Pen, but one cool movie and he is now an old time honored guest. Not complaining... just pointing out the facts there Butch.

Proof that ole Butch Cassidy once cooled his heels in Rawlings
If you're interested, you can peruse this display of
those who were executed at the penitentiary

Model of a ghastly gallows, famous for it's lingering deaths
So, like I have to go on to Colorado alone now?
The museum is interesting if not down right disturbing. Around the time Barbara noticed the proudly displayed photos of those hung at the Pen. Then Barbara noticed the eagerly displayed lengths of rope, each labeled with the name of the man the rope was used to hung. That was it! She was OUTTA there on the spot, but due to unfortunate circumstances involving her screams disturbing the peace...
Oops. I guess I put up too much of a fuss about having to leave Barb behind in the pokey.

GAK! Talk about your low down law breakers, just have a look below.

I swear, you steal one stupid horse, and the bush-poppers are all over yer arse!
Front door to the Penitentiary Museum
By the time we secured our release - we traded Snickers bars for our freedom - we were rarin' for some grub. We found a little dinner at the end of town and had one of the most memorable bad meals we've had in a long time. I wonder if there are any chefs in Wyoming's history that did time for serving crappy salad?

I guess I really did!

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